Music education in state supported industrial training schools for girls in the United States
Newton, Doris Isabelle
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There has heen little knowledge upon the part of music educators and administrators, of music education in state supported industrial training schools for girls in the country. The term "Industrial Training School" was used in this thesis as a blanket designation for all schools to which girls are committed by the courts as delinquents, felons, or misdemeanants. There is at least one such school in every state. The annual maintenance cost of schools of this type has been estimated upon the basis of American Prison Association figures of nineteen thirty eight, and, in consideration of the rise in juvenile delinquency since that time, at about five million dollars. Even teachers directly engaged in the work, however, have known little of what was done in other institutions. There is no published work dealing directly with this field. The importance to the tax payer, as well as to the girl, of any training that will aid in her speedy social rehabilitation, is obvious. Administrators of almost every such school agree that participation in group musical activities has a definitely beneficial effect upon the social behaviour of the members. For these reasons it was believed that an investigation which would reveal (1) what was being done in the field, (2) whether or not there was any uniformity of practice, and, (3) whether or not there was any marked deviation from accepted public school standards, would prove of value to music teachers and administrators in the industrial school field. The information for the thesis was gained from the replies to a questionnaire sent to every girls' industrial school in the country. Replies were received from fifty one. Experience upon some points was gained at the Industrial School for Girls at Lancaster, Massachusetts. The music work was divided into four sections, first, the work done in the classroom; second, the vocal work done outside the classroom, such as chorus and work with selected vocal groups; third, instrumental work, and fourth, the miscellaneous musical activities of the schools. The classroom work was further subdivided into four sections, namely, rote singing, music reading, rhythm work, and directed listening. Most industrial school girls are in the junior and senior high school years, when regular classroom instruction in music might not be expected. However, in practically all states girls may be accepted at seven or eight years of age. This usually means that there are usually one or two rooms of lower grade children who will probably be returned to the public schools. In answer to the questionnaire, twenty-two schools, or fewer than half, replied that they gave classroom instruction in music. In these schools it was a common practice to give this instruction in junior and senior high school rooms as well in the lower grades. The time allotted varied widely, probably because of the greater flexibility of industrial school programs. In some schools as much as an hour a day was allowed. Twenty-seven schools, this number including several which gave no classroom instruction, used rote singing as an important part of the music work. Seven, with little or no formal music programs, did only rote singing. Music reading was stressed in eighteen schools. It was perhaps surprising that even eighteen schools should attempt, at least, to teach it, as the average industrial school mentality is below normal and the children have usually been unsuccessful in the public schools. Observation at the Massachusetts school has indicated, however, that the lower grade children can learn to read, even though more slowly than an average normal class. They need much simple song material and much encouragement, but they learn to read well enough to find pleasure and satisfaction in the process. The older girls can learn if they have a strong incentive, such as, for example, the wish to play an orchestral instrument, or even a pre-band instrument or recorder. Rhythm work was mentioned by fifteen schools, except for three schools listing rhythm bands, and a few which listed dancing and marching, no details of this work were given. Only ten schools mentioned directed listening, although it has been found at the Massachusetts school that this work interests the pupils greatly. An experiment there, in making music notebooks or scrap-books, provided an interest and an individual activity for some girls who greatly need it. It encouraged reading on musical subjects, lent added interest to radio listening in the cottages, and was a means of organizing the unrelated bits of musical information gathered by the pupils, Twenty-one schools used some two of these four activities generally regarded as basic in a well balanced program of music education. Only six schools used them all. Chorus singing was naturally the most popular activity reported. It was used in forty-nine schools. Even those without a music teacher were able to offer it. There was some disagreement on the question of allowing informal, undirected singing in the cottages. Eight directors felt that it should not be encouraged. Forty-three, however, evidently felt the social values to be derived from it were more important than the purely musical values, and encouraged it as on activity. One school reported five hours a week given to directed chorus singing. Several replied that it was enjoyed more than any other school activity. Thirty-seven schools maintained choirs or glee clubs. These were selected groups and were expected to do work on a much higher level than other school groups. Class instrumental instruction was offered in thirteen schools. Thirteen schools also maintained orchestras, although the schools were not identical. Information as to size and quality of work of the orchestras was not given, but the lower than average mentality, the constantly changing population, the relatively short stay at the school, and the crowded schedule at most industrial schools, make it difficult to maintain an orchestra of good quality. However, the need of evaluating institutional music groups psychologically rather than musically must be remembered in weighing the value of these instrumental groups. Eight schools reported bands. Only two schools, Ohio and Wisconsin, had well developed instrumental programs beginning with classes in pre-band instruments and progressing through class instrumental instruction to bands. An experiment in the use of pre-band instruments at the Massachusetts school seemed to show that they had an independent value in an industrial school, particularly as a means of expression for shy and inhibited girls. Their apparent aid in teaching music reading seems to indicate the possibilities for further experiment in this field. The most important miscellaneous activities reported were in the music-dramatic field. Pageants, operettas, dramatized cantatas, and other combinations of music and drama were found valuable in twelve schools. Thirty-six schools permitted performance outside the institution, mostly in the immediate community. Thirty schools reported their music work as primarily recreational. Twenty-one considered it educational, or educational and recreational. Finally every school maintaining musical organizations stated that it was possible to observe a definite improvement in social behaviour resulting from membership in those organizations. It is evident that there is a wide variation in the kind and quality of music work done in the state industrial schools for girls. Some do little or nothing and some approximate the work done in the better public school systems. Whether local conditions make it impossible to achieve a greater degree of uniformity is a question this thesis has not attempted to answer.
This item was digitized by the Internet Archive. Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University